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Jordan Ta’amu continues to rise up national ranks in ESPN Total QBR

Jordan Ta’amu continues to rise up national ranks in ESPN Total QBR

OXFORD, Miss. — After the Rebels’ win over Louisiana-Monroe two weeks ago, we told you about Jordan Ta’amu’s performance in the victory and explained how his stellar play earned him the number one spot in ESPN’s Total QBR rankings for Week 6. What do the rankings mean? How did he get to number one in Week 6? Where is he now? 

Let’s begin at the beginning

Jordan Ta’amu finished 22 of 32 for 336 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 INT in the Rebels’ win over Tech. (Photo: Dan Anderson)

Imagine you are Jordan Ta’amu returning for your senior season as quarterback of one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and opening on national TV at NRG Stadium in Houston. Your Ole Miss football team is a slight underdog against a stout Big 12 team, the Texas Tech Red Raiders, a team touting not only its Air Raid offense, but a vastly improved defense as well.

You defeat Kliff Kingsbury’s team big, 47-27, and put up some pretty hellacious numbers in the process: 22 of 32 passing, 336 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Your team’s total offense is 546 yards in 60 plays—over 9 yards per snap.

Pretty impressive, right? Then you click on the ESPN QBR rankings the next Sunday morning, and where do you find yourself? You’ve barely inched into the Top 25. Hard to imagine that was Ta’amu’s position after such a great game. How is that possible?  

What is Total QBR?

What is the difference between Total QBR, a complex data metric that dates back to 2004 and is known for having only the most elite quarterbacks grace its upper echelon, and NCAA Passer Efficiency? ESPN explains it this way:

“Unlike NCAA Passer Efficiency, which uses only box score statistics, Total QBR accounts for what a quarterback does on a play-by-play level, meaning it accounts for down, distance, field position, as well as the clock and score.

For example, a 5-yard gain on third-and-4 is a good play; whereas, a 5-yard gain on third-and-14 isn’t. A 20-yard touchdown pass when tied in the second quarter means more than a 20-yard touchdown pass when down 30 points late in the fourth quarter. QBR accounts for those things using analysis that turns traditional productivity into points on the scoreboard and wins in the standings.”

The Total QBR also accounts for a quarterback’s ability to scramble, his ability to run on designed rush plays, how well he avoids sacks, drawing and committing penalties, and all-important fumbles, which can be significant for quarterbacks.

After squaring off with the Red Raiders’ defense, Ta’amu would have to line his offense up against the likes of Alabama and LSU, two teams in the habit of putting an end to the high aspirations of their opponents.

Ta’amu begins his rise up the QBR rankings

Ta’amu hit on 21 of 24 passes for 374 yards and 3 TDS vs ULM. (Photo: Dan Anderson)

After facing two of the nation’s best defenses in Alabama and LSU, Ta’amu rebounded and notched a statistical breakout in QBR in his sixth game of the season when the Rebels played Louisiana-Monroe. He hit on 21 of 24 passes for 374 yards, 3 touchdowns and had no interceptions. He also had 6 carries for 63 yards and 2 scores. 

In that game against the Warhawks, Ta’amu’s total QBR score roared to 98.9 out of a possible 100, high enough to take first place in the country that week.

In the history of the rankings, only one other Ole Miss quarterback has ever attained the top spot for the week in Total QBR, Jeremiah Masoli in Week 4 of 2010. 

Slowly but surely, Ta’amu has risen in the overall season rankings as well, finishing Week 7 in the No. 12 overall spot nationally and second in the SEC, only behind overall leader Tua Tagovailoa.

SEC Quarterbacks in the Total QBR rankings

Besides Alabama phenom Tua Tagovailoa, no SEC quarterback is higher than Jordan Ta’amu in the overall Total QBR rankings. Here’s where the league’s signal-callers stand in the ESPN rankings as we head into the Week 8 games:

Total QBR
Rankings of
SEC QBs
Quarterback School
1Tua TagovailoaAlabama
12Jordan Ta'amuOle Miss
15Jarrett GuarantanoTennessee
32Kellen MondTexas A&M
34Jake FrommGeorgia
35Joe BurrowLSU
36Drew LockMissouri
45Kyle ShurmurVanderbilt
55Jake BentleySouth Carolina
71Feleipe FranksFlorida
77Nick FitzgeraldMississippi St.
82Jarrett StidhamAuburn
90Terry WilsonKentucky
102Ty StoreyArkansas

As another point of reference, former Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly finished ninth overall in 2016 and fourth in 2015 in the QBR challenge, but he never finished first in the weekly rankings. Heisman winner and NFL No. 1 draft choice Baker Mayfield was the overall leader the past two years. Others who ranked No. 1 in recent years are Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Russell Wilson – rare air, indeed.

As the Rebels rev up for their final five games, the first of which comes Saturday against Auburn at Vaught-Hemingway, rest assured there will be a lot of eyes on ESPN’s QBR, and we will keep you updated on Jordan’s progress as he continues moving forward—and upward.

About The Author

David Walker

David is the consummate true-freshman quarterback, first pioneering the position only a year after college freshmen were given varsity eligibility by the NCAA in 1972. In 1973, the left-handed all-state gunslinger from Sulphur, Louisiana started for the Texas A&M Aggies and earned the All-Southwest Conference Freshman of the Year award as selected by the league’s coaches. He was only 17, and still holds the NCAA record as the youngest starting quarterback in college football history. He wore No. 8 at A&M in honor of one of his football heroes, Archie Manning. In becoming the winningest quarterback ever at A&M, David was converted from a dual-threat QB to a triple option trailblazer. The two-time team captain led three record-breaking offenses that changed the direction of football at A&M forever, establishing once and for all the winning tradition that the Aggies had so-long desired. As a high school head coach in Houston in the late ‘80s, David stationed his quarterback in the shotgun formation, having him reading defenses and throwing hot routes at a time when such offensive schemes were frowned upon by traditional fans and coaches. One of his quarterbacks tossed 57 passes in a single game, which stood as the all-time Greater Houston Area record for many years.  As you can tell from his bona fides, David is extremely qualified as our expert on all things Quarterback at Ole Miss. Enjoy his exclusive analysis only here at The Rebel Walk!

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